Watching Injections Makes Them Hurt More

By Jamie Condliffe on at

If you're one of the hard core of hospital-goers who chooses to watch while hypodermics are shoved into your arm, here's some news that might make you reconsider: the act of watching an injection actually makes it more painful.

A team of researchers from St. Hedwig Hospital, Berlin, has been investigating how we react to the pain of shots based on what we're looking at, and the results are extremely interesting.

In a series of experiments, researchers simulated needle pricks by giving participants a small electric shock on their hand. At the same time, the volunteers were shown videos of a needle pricking a hand, a cotton bud touching a hand, or nothing happening to the hand at all.

Across the board, participants who saw a hand being pricked by a needle found the pain of the shock far more intense. Not just that, though: in extra experiments, if participants were told that the cotton bud would cause more pain than the hypodermic, the cotton bud video was associated with higher levels of reported pain. Essentially, seeing something that you're primed to think will be painful makes the experience hurt more. The findings are published, approrpiately enough, in the journal Pain.

All of which means that if you look at your jabs, as well as being brave, you're being stupid. Do yourself a favour and look away next time you have a shot. [Pain via Scientific American]

Image credit: Andres Rueda from flickr